This article ran today in the New London Day newspaper. I had grandiose notions of dolling it up a bit and adding photos for this blog, but the odds of that ever happening are next to nil. SO here it is as printed today:
Brian is thinking about cleaning the garage. Spinning in there amidst the flotsam of recreational equipment – ten bikes of various size and state, two scooters, a tricycle, skates, a pogo stick and assorted helmets, gloves and tools – he zeroes in on the jogging stroller.
“Are you done with this?” he asks.
“Well. Um. No. Yes. I don’t know!”
It’s a complicated question. There was a time, just last year in fact, when I pushed that stroller every day. After saying goodbye to the school buses, Ben would hop in with his headphones and have a little rest in the fresh air while I ran.
We no longer use it much, but that stroller was my lifeline to sanity for years. It was my baby shower present eight years ago when I was pregnant with Nell. I have a picture of myself, impossibly round, pushing the stroller across my friend Cindy’s living room floor. It’s bright blue with pristine wheels and fresh tape on the crossbar.
Looking at it now in the garage, it’s rusty and faded to grey. But then again, so am I. The two back wheels were replaced a couple of years ago, and the tread on the front, non-weight-bearing wheel has worn smooth. Twenty-five or thirty miles a week for seven years: this stroller has been around the block.
From infanthood, all three the kids took their morning naps on the move, propped in the stroller with blankets and headrests. I remember running down Pequot Avenue with Baby Nell, her little feet two nubs just emerging from the base of the stroller’s isosceles triangle.
Out in the garage today, she can barely fold herself in.
After Simon and Ben were born, we found double strollers at yard sales and thrift shops, each of which lasted a year or two before succumbing to overuse. That blue stroller has outlasted them all.
When the kids were babies and toddlers, my friends Nan and Karen would often drive to my house in the mornings to help me push: three adults, two dogs and three kids in a fantastic moving parade. Between stops for handing out apples and water cups, dealing with diapers, and waiting for pooping dogs, we talked our heads off. Our conversations moved and breathed: books, movies, politics, people, kids.
Those life-giving talks were my antennae to the outside world, the world beyond naptimes and toilet training. Days with babies, for all their richness, can get a bit lonely. Those runs cemented our friendship for good.
Looking at that old stroller in the garage today I am torn. What to do with this old friend now? I can’t just throw it out. And I can’t give it away; I’m not even sure it’s still safe.
In the end, Brian drills a hook into the ceiling and hangs it high. The stroller now looks down on us like a local deity, Talisman of the Garage, chuckling at our antics, offering occasional advice and blessing our every run.